I’ll never forget sitting at Fairway Cafe in New York early one Saturday morning. As I waited for my breakfast to arrive, I watched a sad scene play out at a table nearby. A Dad sat across from his about one-year-old son, cell phone in hand, intently focused on whatever compelling story or email or video he’d found there.
I observed the boy look up at his Dad expectantly and each time he saw Dad still entranced by his device, the child put his head down. When their breakfast arrived, I was hopeful Dad would put down his phone, so he could connect with his son.
Sadly, that didn’t happen. Once he’d completed the task of setting out a placemat and carefully moving the dishes about so his son could feed himself, Dad dove back into his phone, only looking up to gather another forkful of food for himself.
When Mom arrived and took a seat next to the child, ever-the-optimist, my hope was renewed. She greeted her son warmly and had a quick word with her partner, as the boy gazed up at her adoringly. I thought, “Finally, he’ll get some attention.” But, no. Mom picked up her phone to make a call, with finger raised toward toward her son in the, “Just a minute” position.
The boy was together with his parents… but very much alone.
I love my phone as much as the next cell phone-carrying person does. But what do we model, what message do we send, what irretrievable time is lost when we spend so much time on our devices?
Let’s be sure to not give more love and attention to our phones than to our children.